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Who's to Bless and Who's to Blame

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Album Review

Having suffered a commercial disappointment with his fifth album, Spooky Lady's Sideshow, Kris Kristofferson re-affirmed his movie stardom in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and made a second album with Rita Coolidge, Breakaway, then spent some time coming up with material for his next recording, Who's to Bless and Who's to Blame, which appeared 18 months after its predecessor. The album was far more accessible, containing several catchy songs with commercial possibilities. Lyrically, Kristofferson was largely concerned with moral compromise and the difficulty of distinguishing right from wrong, the conundrum contained in the album title. In the lead-off track, "The Year 2000 Minus 25," he took on politics and recent news events from a sarcastic viewpoint, finally concluding, "It don't hurt so bad when you're high." Songs like "Easy, Come On" and "Stranger" extended the discussion to emotional politics, and the title song took a philosophical tone, contrasting clichés to reveal the murkiness of morality. Even minor songs like "Rocket to Stardom" and "Don't Cuss the Fiddle," humorous looks at celebrity life, introduced unresolved contradictions. The album-closing "Silver (The Hunger)," at eight minutes-plus Kristofferson's longest song, dealt with moral compromise in its allegorical story of a mysterious man's encounter with a woman, even if the songwriter seemed more interested in his alliterative wordplay than in the song's meaning. Monument Records, perhaps hoping to hit the pop and country markets with its different sides, released a single of "The Year 2000 Minus 25"/"If It's All the Same to You," but radio didn't bite, and the album marked another slide in Kristofferson's sales. Four months later, Johnny Duncan covered "Stranger" and took it into the country Top Five.


Born: 22 June 1936 in Brownsville, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After a lengthy period of struggle, Kris Kristofferson achieved remarkable success as a country songwriter at the start of the 1970s. His songs "Me and Bobby McGee," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," and "For the Good Times," all chart-topping hits, helped redefine country songwriting, making it more personal and serious, much in the way that Bob Dylan's songs had transformed pop music songwriting in the mid-'60s. By 1987, it was estimated that Kristofferson's compositions...
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